Britain’s superfast broadband lines set to pass 250,000 this month

April 12, 2011   |   Tim Johnson

Superfast broadband lines to pass 250,000

High-speed broadband is starting to catch on in Britain, with the total number of superfast lines delivering speeds in excess of 25Mbps set to pass the 250,000 mark this April – according to the broadband analysts Point Topic.

Whilst Point Topic’s Chief Analyst Tim Johnson says the number is quite modest – only 1% of homes in Britain – it means that superfast broadband could be in a position to follow in the footsteps of first-generation broadband 10 years ago.

“We went on from there to reach over 13 million broadband lines within five years,” he said. “Now we have over 19 million.  It’s dangerous just to assume that history will repeat itself, but it’s still a good pointer to what will happen to superfast broadband in this decade.”

Point Topic’s estimates for the current number are based on its detailed figures for the end of 2010.  These show there were 175,000 superfast broadband lines in use by then.  The majority were for the 118,000 Virgin Media customers signed up to the 50 megabits per second (50Mbps) cable broadband service.  The remaining 57,000 or so were getting superfast broadband over telecom infrastructure owned by BT and alternative network operators (altnets).

Projecting these figures forward and allowing for some increase in growth suggests there were about 236,000 superfast lines by the end of March.  “At that rate we should pass the quarter-million milestone sometime between now and the end of April,” said Johnson.


Superfast broadband lines

December 2010

March 2011 (estimated)

Virgin Media



BT networks



Alternative networks






In terms of technology, Virgin Media’s customers are all being served using the Docsis 3 broadband standard over co-axial cable.  As of the year end in 2010, another 3,700 superfast end-users had fibre all the way to their homes (FTTP) giving them up to 100Mbps download speeds or even more.  The remaining 53,000 or so had fibre to their local BT street cabinet (FTTC) with very-high-speed DSL (VDSL) over the last few hundred metres of the telephone line to their homes.

In December 2010 the great majority of the BT lines were sold by BT Retail as their BT Infinity superfast broadband service. An estimated 3,000 were BT Wholesale lines resold by over 20 different ISPs, all relatively small ones so far.  The remainder were at BT pilot sites for its FTTP service.

Detailed figures for superfast broadband are provided as part of Point Topic’s regular overview of superfast and next-generation access developments in its UK Plus service on the UK broadband market.

About Point Topic

Point Topic is the primary websource for DSL, FTTx, cable and other broadband supplier and user statistics, databases, information and reports. Its data is in use worldwide amongst governments, commercial organisations and as general reference.  A range of online services provides the most up-to-date, accurate and cost effective worldwide and UK specific broadband data sets available.  See for more details.

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